Naga Panchami is a unique festival that is dedicated to the worship of snakes. It is observed on the Panchami Tithi (fifth day) of the waxing moon phase or Shukla Paksha in the Hindu month of Sawan or Shravan (July-August) in India.
In ancient India, snakes were both feared and revered, and people still continue to worship them, as snakes are associated with many Hindu deities like Vishnu and Shiva. In India, people worship snakes not only in temples but also in their natural habitats. They make offerings of milk and incense and pray to them. In Hinduism, a snake is not seen as an evil creature but a divinity that signifies eternity and materiality, life and death, time and timelessness. It represents the processes of creation, preservation, and destruction.
Snakes are associated with Hindu gods like Vishnu, Shiva, and Indra. Indra rides an elephant named Nagendra, the lord of the snakes. It probably refers to Indra's mastery over the snake world. The Puranas talk of many large serpent deities like Kadru, Manasa, Vinata, and Asitka. Vasuki, who was the king of snakes, had a key role to play in the churning of the Milky Ocean to get the divine elixir, Amrit. There are many myths, beliefs, and legends that are associated with snakes that testify to their hold on the Hindu imagination and the fear and respect they evoked in the Hindu mind.
In Vedic astrology, the Lunar nodes, Rahu and Ketu, are depicted as the head and tail of a snake. These planets are believed to exert a powerful influence on human life. Like Saturn, they can create many problems in an individual’s life if they are afflicted in the person’s natal chart.
When they are afflicted, it can cause Rahu Dosha, Ketu Dosha, Sarpa Dosha, and Kala Sarpa Dosha. Such Doshas can impact many areas of our life negatively.
On Naga Panchami, Hindus worship the serpent gods and ask forgiveness for causing them harm. The worship of snakes in Hindu culture has great importance. Even Lord Shiva wears a snake around his neck like a garland. Naga Panchami is also called Naga Chaturthi and Nagul Chavithi.
On the day of Naga Panchami, Hindu women offer worship to the serpent gods by offering them milk. They also pray for the health and well-being of their brothers and families. As per Hindu belief, the offerings they make to snakes would reach the serpent gods directly on this day.
People believe that observing the Naga Panchami festival appeases the snakes and ensures protection from any harm they can cause. Those who have the dreaded ‘Kaal Sarp Dosh’ in their birth chart are often advised by astrologers to eliminate it by worshipping snakes on this day.
The festival of Naga Panchami is celebrated in the month of Shravan. This is also a time when the monsoon clouds dump a large amount of rainfall in many parts of India. Because of the torrential rains, snakes often emerge from their burrows as they will be flooded with water. Seeking dry land and warmth, they enter people’s homes and are likely to pose a threat to the humans dwelling in those homes. Many snakebite incidents and deaths are reported during this season. It is to avert such incidents that the festival of Naga Panchami is celebrated. Offerings of milk are made to snakes at temples and snakepits. It is also believed that snakes tend to remember the faces of people who cause harm to them and seek revenge by attacking the family members of the person who harmed them. So serpents are worshipped on this day to appease them.
The festival of Naga Panchami has an interesting story behind it. It supposedly began when Takshak, the king of snakes, killed King Janamejaya's father, Parikshit. To avenge his father’s death, King Janamejaya performed a yajna to eliminate the entire Naga clan. But his yagna was stopped after the intervention of Astika Rishi. This day came to be observed as Naga Panchami, and Naga Pooja was performed on the occasion.
Another legend says that Lord Krishna killed the snake Kaliya on the fifth day or Panchami of Shukla Paksha of Shravan month. The snake had been terrorizing the people of his village, Gokul. Thus, Krishna saved the lives of the Gokulvasis. Since then, Naga Panchami was celebrated every year. The festival is also called Garuda Panchami as Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu, is also worshipped along with snakes on this day. Naga Panchami 2021/Naga Chaturthi 2021/Garuda Panchami 2021 is on August 13. AstroVed has created comprehensive Naga Chaturthi and Naga Panchami Fire Labs (Homa) and special Poojas as prescribed in sacred texts, which will be performed on these two most powerful days of the year to alleviate snake curses and gain serpentine blessings.
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